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East Maui is a region unto it’s own, but you pretty much have to take The Road To Hana to get there!
Arriving in Hana Town and exploring it’s neighboring attractions—such as the stunning 7 Sacred Pools—is likely one of the best feelings you’ll have on your Maui vacation.
Yet the trip getting to Hana is truly half the fun.
The world-famous Road To Hana twists lazily through miles of rainforest, waterfalls, and adorable one-lane bridges, with views of the rugged, East Maui coastline the entire way.
Driving to Hana is a “there and back” experience, not a loop, so you’ll catch many of the same sights on your return trip.
There are spots to snorkel along the way, but unless you’re staying the night you’ll likely be too busy taking-in all the beauty above the ocean!
From Ka’anapali you can get to Hana in under 3 hours, but most folks take much longer, stopping off to swim, hike, and sunbathe along the way.
Since the road to Hana is quite long and twisty, you may want to consider taking a guided van tour instead of driving yourself.
A guided tour will allow you to relax and enjoy The Road To Hana’s beautiful scenery through panoramic windows, and you won’t have to keep your eyes constantly glued to the road.
Your knowledgeable tour guides will know all the hotspots along the way so you won’t miss a thing! Not to mention your tour will be catered with drinks included.
Whether you rent a car or let your tour guide do the driving, allow yourself a full day to visit East Maui. There’s simply not enough time to take-in all the sites if you’re in a rush.
As you make your way along the scenic road to Hana, you’ll happen upon the sleepy, little village of Keanae (just past mile marker 16).
This traditional Hawaiian village is known for its taro fields, fishing, and simple living. Keanae’s natural beauty also makes it very popular amongst photographers.
Feel free to step out and snap a few shots!
As you keep chugging along, you’ll soon reach gorgeous Waianapanapa State Park.
Located just before the town of Hana, Waianapanapa is truly one of the main attractions on your drive through East Maui.
In addition to Waianapanapa’s overall striking beauty, the park has a blowhole, cold-water pools and caves, and the best black sand beach in Maui!
Only a few short miles past Waianapanapa you’ll arrive at the name-sake of East Maui’s most popular activity: Heavenly Hana!
Clearly big things come in small packages—and Hana Town is proof of the expression. This quiet, relaxed community of Hana offers a profusion of trees, rolling, green pastures, and of course, plenty of aloha spirit!
To be sure, the full “Hana experience” encompasses more than just the town of Hana.
Although there are a couple things in town that you’ll want to see, you’ll probably spend most of your time exploring the surrounding areas of Waianapanapa State Park and the Kipahulu area.
With a population barely north of 1200, Hana stands in stark contrast to the much busier South and West Maui towns of Kihei and Lahaina.
Here are a few attractions to see near Hana before heading out to the Seven Sacred Pools:
Unless you’re on a guided van tour, which are catered with meals and drinks, Hana is one of the only places on the trip to refuel.
Stop in to Hasegawa general store to grab a bite to eat and pick up a few extra snacks for your day’s adventures.
You won’t find many full-blown “restaurants” in Hana, however, there are a number of roadside food trucks, stands, and shacks offering some extremely tasty, local cuisine.
Here’s a list of some local favorite eateries in Hana:
If you’re planning on spending a night or two in Hana, accommodations can vary widely in type and price. Some people even bring tents and camp!
There are a few options for hotels or condos in Hana, but since these are in short supply, most visitors choose to stay in a B&Bs or Air B N B, private residences.
If you don’t mind coughing up some serious cash, the Travaasa Hotel Hana is definitely crème de la crème.
Here’s a list of some recommended hotels and B&Bs in the Hana area:
So, you’ve successfully navigated precisely 3 kazillion twists, turns, and puny bridges, and you’ve made it safely to Hana, Maui.
Whatever you do, don’t make the mistake of turning around and driving back to your hotel just yet!
There is much to do and see just beyond Hana town, so be sure to go the extra mile….or 12 to be precise!
On your short jaunt from Hana toward the Pools of Oheo, stop off at Wailua Falls, a sparkling, 200 ft. roadside waterfall!
This postcard-perfect waterfall, terminating in a blue-green lagoon, is one of East Maui’s top highlights.
—>> Note: The Pools of Oheo are closed until further notice.
These beautiful, freshwater pools cascade from one to the next, creating absolutely perfect swimming holes.
The surrounding scenery at 7 Sacred Pools is, in a word, stunning.
Please kick off your shoes, take a refreshing dip, and relish in the beauty that the Seven Sacred Pools have to offer. This is paradise!
You’ll find several great hikes in the Seven Pools area, with the three “Kipahulu Area Trails” being the most popular of the bunch.
Kuloa Point Trail and Kahakai Trail are the shortest of the three hikes; each one is only about a half-mile round-trip.
If you want to tackle the best hiking Maui has to offer, then Pipiwai Trail is what you’re really after.
This hike is much longer than hikes near Seven Sacred Pools—about 4 miles round-trip—and it includes a ramble through an incredibly lush bamboo forest.
Makahiku Falls, which plummets 184 ft. into a gorgeous tropical canyon, will creep up you before you know it during your hike.
To top off your adventure, a stunning Waimoku Falls, the 400 ft. crown jewel of Pipiwai, awaits at the end of the trail!
It really doesn’t get any better than this…anywhere.
Many folks opt to drive the Road To Hana and hike Pipiwai Trail on the same day.
If you’re planning on doing this, you should consider booking a guided Road To Hana hiking tour instead of doing it on your own.
These package tours ensure that you’ll be in good hands with knowledgeable folks who really know their way around the roads and trails.
Since the Seven Sacred Pools are located within Hakeakala National Park, there is a $15 parking fee per vehicle.
However, the parking pass is valid for three days and includes access to the summit of Haleakala Crater.
So, be sure to check out the sunrise at Haleakala within that timeframe to get the most bang for your buck!
Of course, you don’t have to pay any parking fees at the Seven Sacred Pools or atop Haleakala Crater if you visit them as part of guided tour.
Another benefit of taking a guided van tour of the road to Hana.
When it’s time for you to call it a day and head back to your hotel, there really is only one way back, and that’s the same way you came in.
We do NOT suggest driving the “back side,” since it comes with many added risks that, in our opinion, really aren’t worth taking.
Besides, much of the back side consists of very rough roads and relatively sparse scenery.
Since it will probably be dusk as you near Paia on your drive back from Hana, you might consider stopping off here for some dinner before heading back to your hotel.
These are a few Paia restaurants we’d recommend checking out:
It’s hard to get to East Maui without taking the world-famous Road To Hana.
Whether you’re heading east as a part of a guided tour, or simply driving in your rental car, remember to take a full day for your journey.
This way you’ll have the opportunity to enjoy a hike or a swim, and get back to your hotel at a reasonable time—and in one piece!
Maui’s East Shore is so isolated that it’s fair to say that there is almost nothing nearby or notable that hasn’t already been covered in this article. However here’s a list of some stuff your could do on a multi-day journey between regions of Maui.
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